Ultraman, the evil Kal-El, is rampaging across the Multiverse with one thing on his mind.
The murder of Superman. Again and again. Equipped with a device to weaken his targets at a cellular level, Ultraman has the advantage.
On Earth One, meanwhile, young Superman Jon Kent is spending time with his boyfriend, Jay Nakamura. Jon is thrilled that recent events mean his real name is now unknown to the public.
The date is interrupted by the call to adventure. Satellites are crashing down from the skies. With the Justice League on a break, Jon calls in the Titans as he zooms around the world, saving people from danger.
His lifesaving activities are interrupted as he enters a fugue state and a change comes over his super-metabolism.
Along with the fizzing there’s an inner voice, telling Jon they’re coming… The moment passes and Jon returns to his normal state in time to stop more burning satellites hitting communities. There’s one final piece of space debris to stop, but Jon doesn’t have to do the job.
That’s Val-Zod, the Superman of the latest world to be dubbed Earth 2.
And the story just gets better from there. Seriously, it’s amazing what cancellation can do for a chap. Superboy: Son of Kal-El ends after a year and a half of mostly average fare, then along comes a new title and suddenly Jon’s world is compelling. Gone is the dull adversary Henry Bendix, it’s bye-bye to the social justice lectures and hello to good old superheroics. Returning writer Tom Taylor brings back characters from his excellent New 52 Earth 2: Society series, adds one of the big beasts of the DC Multiverse in Ultraman – a character with a very personal connection to Jon – and sets up a truly terrifying scenario.
Taylor also gives Jon’s boyfriend Jay a comedy moment (hint, if you don’t want everyone to recognise you as Superman 2’s pink-haired beau, dye your stupid pink hair). One of the Earth 2 characters Val-Zod has with him has emotional resonance for Jon’s mom Lois, and there’s the prospect of Jon getting ‘Electric Superman’ powers, as teased by the cover. There’s an end page reveal which, while no surprise to Earth 2 Society readers, still carries a punch. And when will the owner of the mystery voice arrive? Readers, this one has it all.
And that includes gorgeous art by Clayton Henry, who has been doing great work for DC for years. I think this could be his breakout book – the storytelling is excellent, the characterisations spot on and the action beats sing, with moments that genuinely wowed me. I’ve included the hero shot of Val-Zod; the equivalents for Jon and Ultraman are equally powerful. The colours of Jordie Bellaire are a massive asset, whether they’re chosen for action or drama. The lettering of Wes Abbott bears storytelling weight too, for example, letting us know that the voice Jon hears is that of Ultraman.
Clayton Henry’s cover image, skilfully coloured by Marcelo Maiolo, comes with the words, ‘Road to Injustice’, as Jon will be crossing over into the world of another Tom Taylor series. That one makes Earth 3 look like Disneyland, so let’s hope Jon is able to help out the surviving heroes of that world before returning home.
Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #1 is a terrific DC superhero comic, a second chance at stardom for our young Superman. Give it a go.